NMU unveils Health and Human Performance Research Center to supplement student work in the classroom

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The future looks bright for Northern Michigan University students in the School of Health and Human Performance as their newest research center was unveiled Monday afternoon at an open house.

"Being able to have access to an additional research space is going to hit a lot of different students in ways that I don't think they would have imagined when they decided that they were going to do a bachelor's program. 'What I get to do research?! Cool!' So I think that for them it's going to be just a wonderful opportunity to engage in learning in different ways instead of just sitting there listening to a lecture, they're going to do applied work with actual human beings which is great," explains Elizabeth Wuorinen, Associate Dean and Director of NMU's School of Health and Human Performance.

One of the first research programs students will be exposed to within the performance center is exercise oncology with breast cancer survivors.

"The main thing is using exercise as a tool to help individuals recover more efficiently, effectively from a cancer diagnosis, and we are doing the physical functioning of that," says Scott Drum, a professor of sport and exercise science at NMU's School of Health and Human Performance.

"One of the things we would like to do is get them moving in different ways that perhaps they hadn't moved in the past so that they can target different muscle groups and help encourage them to become more active in different ways," Wuorinen says.

The hope with the exercise oncology research is to see the effects of exercise working in a laboratory setting versus outdoors. This facility offers a wide variety of equipment that mimics outdoor activities such as running, biking, and rock climbing.

"The bikes that we have and the treadmill that we have, have virtual screens so that you can plug in a specific trail that you want to run on and you are actually running on it. And the bike and the treadmill will respond in the same way as if you were outside doing that. The treadwall which of course is very exciting, whereas it's not mimicking specifically climbing up a cliff, which personally scares me, but gives that opportunity to do that type of motion in a safe environment," Wuorinen explains.

The Health and Human Performance Research Center also hopes to collaborate with the other health services within the building and do community outreach in the future as well.